Category Archives: The Business of Writing

5 Tips to Help You Get Published

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The question I’m most often asked is: Can you help me to get published? If you mean can I connect you with specific publishers, editors or agents to help you get published, my answer is no. But I can give you five quick tips that might help.

1, Do you need an agent? The short answer is it depends.

Whether or not you need an agent depends on what you are trying to sell to a publisher. If you hope to publish your work with a well-known trade book publisher (The “Big 5” in the U.S. are Hachette Book Group, Harper-Collins, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House, Simon & Schuster) then you definitely need an agent; but, if you are aiming for a small or niche publisher, you might not need one.

Most publishers post guidelines for submissions on their web pages. If a publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, you may only approach them through an agent. WritersMarket.com is the best tool for finding publishers and their guidelines. (Subscribe online for $5.99/month and cancel any time.)

2. Fiction and nonfiction have different paths to publication.

31d444fc17ab9e199629f67ac4dd9cb3d1b71875_hqAn agent will often want to see a complete manuscript for a work of fiction or a memoir, but for most nonfiction works, a book proposal will be enough. Before you pitch either to an agent, make sure that you are submitting your best work. If you aren’t familiar with writing a solid, convincing book proposal, then learn to write one before you approach an agent. I can’t stress enough how important this is!

Research agents to find which accept the kind of work you are submitting. A good place to start is PublishersMarketplace.com. (Subscription: $25/month, no long-term commitment.)

3. Be meticulous when preparing your submission.

Depending on
* what you are submitting,
* the publisher’s guidelines
* and an agent’s requirements,
you might be asked for any of the following: a query letter, a book proposal, a synopsis and sample chapters. Again—if you aren’t proficient in writing a query letter, proposal and synopsis, learn to do so! These items are KEY to getting your book published.

4. Self-publishing is an option.

Woman holding traditional book and e-book readerOnline services exist that make it relatively easy and inexpensive for authors to self-publish their books and make them available as e-books and also paperbacks. Some of the more popular services are Amazon KDP, PronounDraft2Digital, and CreateSpace.

Self-publishing allows you to make all the decisions. You are not only the author, but also your editor and marketing manager.

5. Getting published takes work—long, hard work! My most important tip is DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t rush. Plan your path to publication.

In my opinion, one of the best starting points for researching how to get published is Jane Friedman’s blog. (I often repost her articles on my Facebook author page.) Jane’s site is a goldmine of detailed information. I suggest making it your starting point. Go there, and spend time reading and learning about the business of publishing.

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, Writing goals, Writing Tips

12 Inspiring Idioms for Aspiring Freelancers

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Whether you are new to freelancing, or just thinking about it, these idioms will help:

 1. Rise and Shine! Working from home is the best of freelance perks, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep in every day. Set a daily work schedule and stick to it.

2. Know the Ropes. The best way to get and keep clients is to understand the publishing industry. Read and learn about the publishing process (the steps to get a book from contract to print). Stay current with trends and what your clients’ companies are publishing.

3. You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Vet potential clients carefully, especially small or new publishers. Know exactly what is expected from you, the due date, how much you will be paid, and the payment terms. Always work with a contract.

When I began freelancing, I accepted an assignment from a promising, new company. The articles written about it were positive. But had I dug deeper, I would have discovered that this company was in serious financial trouble. Many employees had been let go, and the publisher was relying on freelancers to do the work. It went bankrupt, and I never received full payment for my invoice. A $5000 mistake on my part, and a reminder to you—do your homework.

dont-count-your-chickens4. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew. As you add more clients to your list, there will be times when assignment offers overlap. It’s tempting to accept every offer, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. When faced with multiple offers, ask yourself: “How much of my best work can I deliver in the specified timeframe?” It’s better to turn down an assignment than to deliver less than your best or to miss a due date.

5. A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush. There will be times when you need to weigh a “maybe” against a “sure thing”. For example, a client has told you that they might have a project for you in a month or so. Another client has approached you with a definite project due within the same time frame. Will you wait for the “maybe” project, or will you accept the sure thing? Sometimes it’s a difficult choice.

I did some work for an educational publisher, writing questions for standardized tests. The work was fun, and it paid well; however, the lead times (the time to complete the work by deadline) were short and the work was sporadic. The client would let me know that they might have work for me in a month or two. Often, if the work materialized, I would already have taken on a “sure thing” assignment and couldn’t fit their tight deadlines into my schedule. I ended up losing that client, but still, I feel that I made the right choice. The income I received from the sure assignments was, likely, greater than if I had waited.

6. Get Down to Brass Tacks. Freelancing is a job, just as if you were sitting at a desk in the publisher’s workplace. You need a home office, or designated workspace, free from distractions and interruption. Sometimes, you might need to get out of the house and write someplace else. Think about places you might go to write.

Visit your local coffee houses, and you’ll find people wearing headphones and working on laptops. Noise blocking headphones, or even playing classical music through earphones, can help concentration and block noise. Bonus—coffee houses are great places to meet other freelancers.

eligiblemagazine-com_7. Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Deliver what you promise. Always submit your best work, in the best format, and on time.

8. It’s a Race Against Time. The publishing industry is deadline driven. Schedules are created to meet a specific print date. If that date is missed, it costs the publisher money. Another idiom: Time is Money. If you miss your deadlines, it is almost certain that you won’t get more assignments.

9. Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by work and deadlines. It’s important to remember that work comes first. It’s not like you can peek over the wall of your work cubbie and ask a co-worker for help. This is all on you! Plan for how you will handle freelance stress.

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word helps me during stressful work times. I also listen to quieting music. Pandora Radio is a great resource for finding soothing music to listen to while you work.

10. Go the Extra Mile. Do more than what is expected. Turn assignments in before the due date. Help your editor as much as possible by submitting a well-formatted manuscript (Spacing, paragraph indents, etc.).

11. Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. Your clients don’t have to choose you for their assignments. When they do, it’s a gift and a testament to your good work! Be grateful, humble, and giving.

When a book I’ve worked on is published, I like to put a link to it on my Facebook business page. I always link to the publisher’s web site, and I thank them for inviting me to work on the project. This is one way to show appreciation.

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12. Be the Apple of Their Eye! Simply be the best you can be with a healthy dose of friendliness and humility.

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Freelance writing, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, work for hire, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility